PV Group - PV Group Advances Solar Policy Best Practices at Congressional Briefing
PV Group Advances Solar Policy Best Practices at Congressional Briefing, International Webcast
In support of the PV Group’s policy position on feed-in tariffs (FIT), the PV Group recently took part in a renewable energy policy briefing on Capitol Hill and organized an online webcast on FIT Best Practices with leading policy experts around the world. In both venues, the PV Group was able to reinforce and discuss the policy principles detailed in the PV Group White Paper, “Advancing a Sustainable Solar Future.”
The Renewable Energy Policy Briefing took place in the Rayburn House Office Building in the shadow of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC on January 21. Representing the PV Group was Jamie Girard, manager of public policy at SEMI North America. “It’s clear that one of the biggest barriers to implementing a feed-in tariff is lack of education,” said Girard, “ …and briefings like this one go a long way to helping our Congressional leaders understand the basic principles behind such a system, and the right steps to take to make it work.”
The briefing featured an appearance by Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), who addressed the packed committee room and spoke about his work on reintroducing a version of a bill to establish a feed-in tariff on a national basis. Despite some skepticism, Inslee was insistent that the establishment of a feed-in tariff could be done on a national level saying, "Some may say this sort of action should be at the regional or state level, …but we're never going to solve the energy challenge unless we take national action," Inslee said, “We didn’t go to the moon one municipality at a time.”
Many of the speakers voiced policy principle consistent with the PV Group. Feed-in tariffs, in order to work the way they are intended, should have stable prices, long-term guarantees and be open and transparent. Maja Wessels of First Solar said that most current strategies for increasing renewable generation in the U.S. do not meet these criteria.
"In the U.S. we see policies that are very much stop and go, … that are there for two years and have to be renewed. This doesn't offer the stability of transparency feed-in tariffs would," Wessels said.
Other speakers in the briefing were
- Claire Kreycik, Energy Analyst, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)
- Miguel Mendonca, Director, World Future Council & Author of “Powering the Green Economy: The feed in tariff handbook.”
- Steve O'Rourke, Managing Director, Deutsche Bank
- Ed Regan, Assistant General Manager for Strategic Planning, Gainesville Regional Utilities
- Craig Lewis, Founding Principal, RightCycle & FIT Coalition
Inslee concluded the briefing by noting that in the United States feed-in tariffs are "rapidly growing traction", but still require an "educational process" and that will take time to get policymakers on board through educating them about the issue. "There's no better policy than a feed-in tariff to give the investment community confidence to invest in technology that will lead to a low carbon economy,” said Inslee.
Continued advocacy and education regarding the feed-in tariff will continue to be a priority for the PV Group’s Washington, DC efforts, as well as more specific policy improvements. This includes support for an expansion of the renewable energy manufacturing tax credit in upcoming “Jobs” legislation, as well extending tax provisions for investment and depreciation of capital equipment.
Educating policy makers, members, and other important solar constituencies was the objective of the PV Group webcast, “FIT For Life:The importance of feed-in tariffs in driving global PV demand,” held on January 26. Agenda for the webcast included:
1. Introduction: Why FIT policies are important (what is a FIT, role in Germany, etc.) - Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Fraunhofer, ISE
2. The importance of establishing a stable investment climate for PV - Mark Fulton, Deutsche Bank
3. Global FIT Update (Germany, Spain, Japan, US, and emerging markets) - Wilson Rickerson, Meister Consultants Group
4. Best Practices in FIT Policy Design – Dan Martin, PV Group
Gerhard Stryi-Hipp, Fraunhofer, ISE provided a good introduction to the FIT policy history which he saw first hand in Germany as director of BSW, the German solar energy association. Mark Fulton Deutsche Bank’s Head of Climate Change Investment Research outlined the view of solar policy that aligns with PV Group. "What investors want is Transparency, Longevity and Certainty – “TLC” – in policy regimes to mobilize capital," he said, “For the foreseeable future, investors will be focused on mandates and incentives. We believe that appropriately-designed and budgeted feed-in tariffs have demonstrated their ability to deliver scale.” Wilson Rickerson, author of PV Group’s White Paper, gave a global update on FITs.
Dan Martin concluded the program by outlining the PV Group position. “Today, nearly 80% of the world’s solar demand arises from FIT-supported policy environments. There is now broad consensus among both the renewable energy policy-making and the financial communities that feed-in tariffs are one of the most powerful solar energy policy tools available.”